Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Disaster Revisited

What novel would you believe the Huffington Post could call "possibly the most important piece of literature ever printed"? Ulysses? No. The Great Gatsby? No. Try The Disaster Artist, the story of the making of The Room, the infamously horrendous movie from Tommy Wiseau. I read it with an incoming appreciation for the film; never did I think I would enjoy the book as much as I did.

If you haven't already, go watch The Room, then probably watch it again, and then read the book. Because you are most likely going to want to watch it another time after that. The movie is phenomenal, and the book is a wonderful supplementary piece.

The first time I watched the movie was a special experience. I had known the infamy of the film, of course, and I found out it would be playing at midnight on Cartoon Network's Adult Swim. Having never seen it before, I patiently stayed up for it, despite having class in the morning. I remember being a little worried that my roommate would return during this film and think I was watching something truly disturbing, thus ruining my first experience. As it turned out, he did not return in time for the end, and I was able to fully absorb The Room, as it came to its satisfying conclusion at 2:00am.

As it turns out, the movie is truly a special production. The story is ridiculous, seemingly not adhering to reality. It is more like a series of popular movie tropes jammed together in nonsensical ways. There is a love triangle between Tommy, his fiance, and his best friend, which awkwardly destroys the future marriage. There is a neighbor boy who looks up to Tommy as a pseudo-caretaker. There is a drug sequence. There is a suicide. Trust me, the movie has it all, even if it does none of it well.

The book, The Disaster Artist, chronicles the making of this movie, often called the worst movie of all time. But for as bad as the movie is, the book is really quite poignant. Author, Greg Sestero plays Mark, the aforementioned best friend who ruins Tommy’s marriage. Sestero also happens to be about the only human being to connect with Tommy Wiseau--the person, not the character. At times, the descriptions of the film production are hilarious, but they can also be heartwarming. It is a group of people following the lead of one man who spares no expense to make his dream come true.

If nothing else, it is a fascinating look at the Tommy, again, the person. In this age where as much as possible is known about celebrities, Tommy Wiseau leads what is truly a mysterious life. No one knows how much he is worth, despite his enormous bankroll for The Room. No one knows anything about his family life. No one, not even Sestero, knows even where Tommy was originally from (and his accent only adds to the intrigue).

Tommy has since made a TV series called Neighbors, equally uncomfortable and poorly made. It’s easy to look at these and feel sorry for Tommy, to ask “Doesn’t he get it?” There is no sign he gets it, but it honestly does not matter. There is something so damn endearing about his productions; any viewer will see these are his visions as accurately as they can be created in the physical realm. The Disaster Artist does a wonderful job bringing Tommy--the person AND the character--to life.